Rapha have just released a new range of jerseys, bib shorts, base layer and T shirt in conjunction with Sir Paul Smith. They feature the legendary designer’s trademark stripes over a rather classy British racing green.
Paul Smith and Rapha’s CEO, Simon Mottram go back a long way. Mottram approached Smith for help and advice when he was designing his first jersey 16 years ago and the pair share a passion for the classic look featured in the book, Kings of Pain. Smith says that, “I did a lot of work with Rapha from the start, and we share a lot of values - purity being one and a love of everyday cycling.”
Paul Smith’s love affair with cycling began as a boy in the unglamorous surroundings of a British Legion hut on Thursday nights in Beeston, Nottingham in the 1960s. In his Cycling Scrapbook he explains how he would meet with fellow members of his local cycling club and listen in awe to the older riders talk knowledgeably about the likes of Bartali, Coppi and Anquetil. In this way the young Paul, who had never travelled abroad, immersed himself in a culture and “the names of the great riders were like punctuation marks in this young man’s life.”
He saved to buy his first road bike from a part time job in a petrol station. Eventually he had enough to venture to Italy itself and spent his entire holiday budget on a red leather cycling helmet and leather gloves with mesh backs. Sadly his ambitions of becoming a professional rider were dashed by injury from a crash.
While the design of this new collection draws its inspiration from the past, the materials and production methods are anything but. The bib shorts are the same as those worn by EF Education First in the pro peloton, and there’s a lightweight souplesse as well as Pro Team midweight jersey. The T-shirt design was inspired by a vintage piece that Smith came across that was issued to team soigneurs and mechanics.
If you want to buy an item from this collection you’ll have to be a member of RCC. And, being a Paul Smith design, they don’t come cheap either! Great looking kit, though.